Hearts and Flowers, Connection and Positivity.

Hello fello Positivity Tool Adventurer! Wonderful to reconnect. How’d you do with January’s Pessimist Trap busters?

I had a breakthrough moment recently when I woke up in the middle of the night and immediately began stewing over some problem—and then suddenly remembered our positivity tool!

Lo and behold, identifying my good things and how I contributed to them helped me regain perspective and control.

Wow! I can feel my optimism muscles strengthening as I learn to become more aware, more quickly, of when I’ve been ambushed by Pessimism.

A Season of Love and Connection

When I think of February, I see hearts, cupids, love and connection. Which fits with the #1 thing Positive Psychology researchers have identified as most likely to increase our happiness, optimism, quality of life and longevity: Social connection.

Research consistently finds that positive social connection forecasts health and longevity—just as much as not smoking and maintaining a healthy body weight. Remarkable.

The Grant Study is a fine example of these findings. As researchers tracked the lives of 724 men over a period of 75 years, the clear message emerged that relationships keep us happier and healthier. Period.

Experiment with the 36 Questions That Lead to Love. This fascinating quiz underlines the finding that mutual vulnerability fosters closeness. It comes from a study that found “one key pattern associated with the development of a close relationship among peers is sustained, escalating, reciprocal, personal self-disclosure.”

My not-particularly-talkative husband and I have committed to a monthly “date” when we ask each other one question from each of the three sets. Our January conversation was a lovely 2-hour chat as we walked through the forest.

Gather more vulnerability ideas from Brene Brown’s 20 minute Ted talk. She’s hilarious, warm, thoughtful and thought-provoking.

Reach out at work. A 20-year study on job-related factors as predictors of mortality found that people who felt emotionally supported at work lived longer than those who didn’t! Wow.

Boatloads of other studies highlight that strong connections at work foster an environment that supports learning, engagement and positive emotion, leads to greater levels of creativity and collaboration, and ultimately boosts the bottom line.

Not sure what this can look like? Play with one of these suggestions and see what happens.

Consider your connections. Personally, the activity I’m taking on for February comes from Barbara Fredrickson’s Love 2.0. Recall your three longest social interactions from the last 24 hours. Then rate how true each of these statements feels to you: During these social interactions, I felt “in tune” with the person/s around me.

not at all true 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 very trueDuring these social interactions, I felt close to the person/s around me.

not at all true 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 very true

Fredrickson’s studies found that asking these questions nightly increases positivity and positive connections by making us more aware and appreciative of our interactions with others. Cool.

And what about you?

Which tool will you try this month to strengthen your relationships?

Wishing you hearts and flowers, connection and positivity!

Momentum and Miracles

Think it may be helpful to have work colleagues, friends or family along on your 2016 Positivity Adventure? Forward this tool tip, or they can email me to put them on the list. Great things can happen when we all work as one.

In the meantime, continue to lead your life with a focus on G.R.A.C.E. [Grow Relationships & Choreograph Efforts]…enjoy yourself and the moment…and lead with confidence!

May the (positivity) force be with you.

.. Mary Ellen (ME)

Mary Ellen Sanajko
Leadership Coach & Trainer